For an evidence-based climate agenda and the real interests of society
(translation of original, from the signatories)
Open letter to the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo de Aquino Salles
– Your Honor Mr. Antônio Hamilton Martins Mourão – Vice President of the Republic;
– Your Honor Mr. Marcos Cesar Pontes – Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications;
– Your Honor Mr. Bento Costa Lima Leite de Albuquerque Júnior – Minister of Mines and Energy;
– Your Honor Ms. Tereza Cristina Corrêa da Costa Dias – Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply;
– Your Honor Mr. Gustavo Henrique Rigodanzo Canuto – Minister of Regional Development;
– Your Honor Mr. Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas – Minister of Infrastructure;
– Your Honor Mr. Fernando Azevedo e Silva – Minister of Defense;
– Your Honor Mr. Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira – Chief Minister of the Institutional Security Office;
– Your Honor Mr. Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo – Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Your Honor Mr. Ricardo de Aquino Salles:
The positions expressed by Your Honor in several interviews, before and after assuming the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), reinforce the expectation that its management may represent a decisive turning point in the orientation of Brazilian environmental policy, aiming at confronting the real problems of the Country and the performance of the MMA as a catalyst for synergistic actions with the other organs of public administration, as well as promoting an objective, pragmatic and non-ideological vision of environmental issues in society in general.
In this context, the present signatories reiterate that the discussions and formulation of public policies on climate issues have been predominantly based on mistaken and narrow ideological, political, economic and academic motivations, not only from the basic principles of practice but also of the larger interests of society.
It is noticeable that the extension of such interests and the international commitments assumed by the country to the “decarbonization” agenda of the world economy makes any abrupt attempt to reorient the national climate agenda, outside the “anthropogenic” scenario of climate change, to generate opposition from the sectors articulated around this scenario, including the powerful international environmental movement and a large part of the media, with considerable influence on internal and external public opinion.
Nevertheless, some necessary course corrections are feasible in order to give a higher priority to certain initiatives of fundamental importance, both within the MMA and other ministries, to provide an effective improvement of the knowledge of the climate dynamics and an increase the general ability of society to cope with the most diverse meteorological and climatic phenomena that have always occurred in the past and will continue to occur in the future. We are convinced that such initiatives would represent better applications for much of the human and financial resources that have been mistakenly targeted for and depleted with the decarbonization agenda, particularly the National Climate Change Fund.
Therefore, we offer you the following considerations, with the expectation that they may provide relevant subsidies for the MMA’s performance, taking advantage of the opportunity to formulate votes for success in its management.
1) There is no physical evidence of human influence on the global climate
In strictly scientific terms, the climatic question can be summed up in a single paragraph:
Changes are the fundamental feature of climate, as evidenced by the evidence for the Earth’s entire geological history – that is, the climate is always changing (hence the term “climate change” becomes a pleonasm). As to the alleged human influence on the global climate, supposedly attributed to the emissions of carbon compounds from human activities, it would have to amplify the (gradient) rates of atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and sea levels recorded since the Industrial Revolution XVIII century. As there is no observed physical evidence that these latter variations are anomalous, relative to those recorded earlier, in the historical and geological past, simply, the human influence hypothesis cannot be proved in spite of all the fussing in this sense.
All the prognoses that indicate exaggerated elevations of sea temperatures and sea levels in the coming decades, as well as other negative impacts attributed to the release of “anthropogenic” carbon into the atmosphere, are based on projections of mathematical models, which are only very limited simplifications of the climate system. Therefore, such alarmist scenarios should not be used to support public policies and long-range strategies with large socio-economic impacts, both nationally and globally.
The human influence on the climate is restricted to the urban areas and their surroundings (the known effect of the “heat islands”), being these impacts very localized and without influence in the planetary scale.
According to the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5 / IPCC) released in 2014, global average temperatures increased by 0.85 °C in the period 1880-2012, while average sea level rose by 0.19 m between 1901 and 2010.
Now, even within the period of existence of humanity, there are records of much more marked numbers. Throughout the Holocene, the geological epoch corresponding to the last 11,700 years when human civilization has developed, there have been several periods with higher temperatures than today. In the Middle Holocene, 6,000-8,000 years ago, average temperatures were 2 °C to 3 °C above current levels, while sea levels reached up to 3 meters above current levels. Similarly, in the hot periods known as Minoan (1500-1200 BC), Roman (III BC-V AD) and Medieval (XIV-XIII AD), average temperatures of the planet were between 1-2 °C higher than current. And paleoclimatic data (ice cylinders from Vostok station, Antarctica) suggest that Earth’s temperatures were already 6 °C to 10 °C higher than the current ones, in the last three interglacial ones there are about 150,000, 240,000 and 320 thousand years ago.
Between 12,900 and 11,600 years ago, in the cold period called Recent Dryas, atmospheric temperatures dropped by around 8 °C in less than 50 years, and by the end of that year they rose again in the same proportion in just over half a century.
As for sea level, it rose about 120 meters, between 18,000 and 6,000 years ago, which equates to an average rate of 1 meter per century, fast enough to visually impact the successive generations of populations living on the continental shores. In the period between 14,650 and 14,300 years ago, there are records of an even faster rise, reaching about 14 meters in only 350 years, averaging 4 meters per century.
In other words, such variations represent values greater than an order of magnitude to observations made since the nineteenth century. Therefore, the latter fall well within the range of natural oscillations of climatic parameters and therefore cannot be attributed to the use of fossil fuels or to any other type of activity linked to human development.
Although evidence such as these can be found in literally thousands of studies conducted on every continent by scientists from dozens of countries, duly published in the international scientific literature (see, e.g., the excellent site http://www.co2science.org), it is rare for any of these studies to have repercussions in the media, often more inclined to promote a sensationalist and disorienting alarmism.
2) The hypothesis of “anthropogenic” warming is a disservice to science and a risk to public policies
Good scientific practice presupposes a correspondence between working hypotheses and observed data that prove them. The “anthropogenic” climate change hypothesis is not based on physical evidence observed in the real world, since in the past, high temperatures occurred with low concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and vice versa. In addition, according to satellite data, the average global temperature (if any) has been stable over the past 20 years, although CO₂ emissions have increased by more than 11% over the same period. Therefore, despite the fact that a certain number of scientists have been added, their construction passes away from scientific methodology and the insistence on its preservation represents a great disservice to Science and its necessary placing in the service of the well-being of humanity.
History records numerous examples of the ill effects of linking science to ideologies and other narrow interests. The prevailing commitment to imposing the “anthropogenic” hypothesis without the corresponding evidence has cost humanity dearly, in human, technical, and economic resources wasted with a nonexistent problem. Brazil is not unaware of this situation. On the contrary, there is an unreasonable commitment in the country to place it in a questionable position of “leadership” in the international negotiations on the climate.
It is worth remembering that a number of leading countries have expressed contentious positions on the political guidelines based on such an unfounded hypothesis, in order to mitigate their impacts on their respective national economies.
In addition, by giving CO₂ and other gases produced by human activities the role of climate dynamics players, the “anthropogenic” hypothesis simplifies and distorts extremely complex natural processes in which astrophysical, atmospheric, oceanic, geological, geomorphological and biological factors interact, which science only begins to understand in its scope and is still very far from being able to represent them in reliable mathematical models.
Incidentally, the alleged 2 °C limit for raising temperatures above pre-industrial levels, which supposedly could not be surmounted and justified all the proposed restrictions on fossil fuels at international level, has no basis scientific basis. It is a “political” creation of physicist Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK) and scientific advisor to the German government, as he himself admitted in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, published 10/17/2010.
An example of the risks of this simplification to the formulation of relevant public policies is the real possibility that the period until the 2030s will experience considerable cooling of the atmosphere rather than heating due to the combined effect of a cycle of low solar activity (Cycle 25), the cooling phase of the Pacific Ocean (Pacific Decadal Oscillation-ODP), in a scenario similar to that observed between 1947 and 1976, and the trend of increasing global cloud coverage over the last 16 years. It is worth noting that, in that period, Brazil experienced a 10-30% reduction in rainfall, which caused problems of water supply and electricity generation, in addition to an increase in strong frosts, which contributed, for example, to eradicating cultivation of coffee in western Paraná. If such conditions are repeated in the immediate future, the country could have serious problems, including in the areas of expansion of the agricultural frontier of the Midwest, North and Northeast regions, and hydroelectric generation (particularly considering the proliferation of reservoirs of water “, imposed by the environmental restrictions of the last decades).
3) Obsession with CO₂ diverts attentions and resources from actual emergencies
The sun, water and CO₂ are essential for photosynthesis and for life as we know it on planet Earth. That is, CO₂ is not a pollutant, but the gas of life!
In addition, the obsession with reducing CO₂ emissions has led to an undesirable diversion of human and financial resources and attention from the real environmental problems affecting society today, whose solutions require public initiatives and investments and the awareness of broad social sectors. Not to stretch, some of the main ones are mentioned:
– The lack of access to basic sanitation networks for more than 100 million Brazilians; about 34 million do not have access to treated water and only 45% of the sewage collected has some type of treatment, which generates losses estimated at R $ 56 billion per year, according to the “Trata Brasil” Institute.
– Although a little more than 91% of the waste generated in the country is collected regularly, 41% of the solid waste collected is destined for inadequate landfills and landfills, generating large public health impacts, aquifer and water pollution and other problems (acc. to Panorama of Solid Waste in Brazil 2017).
– According to the IBGE, 8.27 million people in 872 municipalities live in areas of risk – slopes, river floodplains and other unsuitable land for housing (Population in risk areas in Brazil, 2018).
Unfortunately, despite their seriousness and urgency of confrontation, such problems are often not perceived as “environmental” by a considerable part of society and therefore do not receive even a fraction of the attention and publicity usually devoted to climate issues.
4) Better knowledge and greater resilience
Instead of the alarmism about global warming and the pseudo-panaceas “low carbon”, the climate agenda would have much to gain from a reorientation of priorities, favoring: a) a better understanding of the dynamics of the climate, with emphasis on paleoclimatic studies of the territory Brazilian; and (b) an increase in society’s resilience in dealing with extreme weather events and any future climate trends.
The study of the climatic changes of the historical and geological past (paleo-climate) constitutes the most solid basis for the understanding of the climatic dynamics and its projections for the future. Particular attention should be given to the Quaternary period (the last 2.6 million years), in which the genus Homo has emerged and evolved. Within the Quaternary, the last 800,000 years have been marked by a succession of colder cycles, with an average duration of 90-100,000 years, and interglacial (warmer), with an average duration of 10-12 thousand years. Today, the planet is in an interglacial phase, beginning about 11,700 years ago, within which all human civilization has developed. Significantly, at least the previous three interglacial were warmer than the current one, and there is no evidence that the interglacial present can fail to be succeeded by a new glaciation. The most accepted explanation for the factors causing this dynamic is based on changes in cyclically-varying earth orbital parameters such as changes in the inclination of the axis of rotation and in the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Therefore, it is evident that man is incapable of causing any minute influence on the cosmic factors and forces that govern it.
In Brazil, Quaternary studies, although important and the existence of a reasonable number of research institutions and researchers dedicated to them, are still sparse and insufficient to allow the configuration of a paleoclimatic picture of the national territory and its continental environment, with the necessary depth to subsidize a consistent model of climate change to be defined for the country, that can provide relevant data to subsidize a global model more in keeping with reality. Therefore, this is a gap that needs to be considered in formulating a truly useful climate agenda, in which the MMA could act in consonance with the specific bodies of the MME and MCTIC. In addition, there is a need for local and regional studies, intermediates between the global / zonal and point scales of microclimates, which are of great importance for planning and territorial planning and should receive greater attention.
As for resilience, this can be understood as the flexibility of the physical conditions of survival and functioning of society, as well as its capacity to respond to emergencies, allowing it to reduce its vulnerability to extreme weather phenomena, climatic oscillations and other natural phenomena which have occurred in the past and will certainly occur in the future.
In this regard, two sets of factors stand out that contribute to reduce the vulnerability of society to meteorological and climatic adversities:
- a) an improvement in national weather forecasting capacity;
- b) the stimulation of research related to new advanced energy sources.
In the first item, a key initiative would be to take the role of the project of a geostationary meteorological satellite of its own, essential for a country that occupies half of South America and has the responsibility of distributing meteorological information on a large part of the South Atlantic Ocean (the so-called METAREA-V) in accordance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
Other relevant initiatives include:
– the expansion and better territorial distribution of the network of meteorological stations, lower than the standards recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for a territory with the Brazilian dimension, with special emphasis on the work being developed by the National Institute of Meteorology (INMET);
– increasing the number of meteorological radars and their interconnection with civil defense systems;
– speeding up the consolidation of the national meteorological data base, part of which has not yet been digitized;
– the establishment of a more efficient network for the dissemination of meteorological and oceanographic data to METAREA-V.
The second item highlights the establishment of research lines for new energy sources, such as the use of thorium in nuclear reactors, nuclear fusion (with concepts that will be commercially available over the next decade) and sources based on new physical principles , such as chemically assisted nuclear reactions (so-called “cold fusion”), quantum vacuum energy (or “zero point”), and others, objects of research and development in several countries, but practically ignored in the country, which cannot give the luxury of being oblivious to them. For such research, Brazil has the necessary qualified human resources, distributed among academic research centers, state companies (Cenpes, Cepel, etc.), military personnel (IME, CTA, CTEx, IPqM) and some private technology companies. With regard to renewable sources, solar energy can be exploited, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, but not with photovoltaic systems, of proven inefficiency, but with solar power (CSP), in particular those of parabolic troughs , in addition to the production of liquid fuels from algae and hydrogen from hydrogenase (reversible oxidation catalytic hydrogen molecular enzyme).
All of these initiatives could benefit from the availability of some of the financial resources that have been allocated to programs linked to climate change along the wrong approach to reducing carbon emissions.
An additional set of initiatives relevant to “climate resilience” involves physical infrastructure, in particular, food storage capacity, transport infrastructure, energy and communications, as well as other topics not directly within the scope of MMA, but potentially influenced Ministry’s guidelines and programs.
In summary, the most rational and efficient way to increase society’s resilience in the face of inevitable climatic changes – warming or cooling – is the general elevation of their levels of human development and progress to the levels allowed by Science and the advancement of knowledge and the process of innovation.
5) “Decarbonization” is unnecessary and deleterious
Since “anthropogenic” carbon emissions do not produce verifiable impacts on the global climate, the entire “decarbonization” or “low carbon economy” agenda becomes unnecessary and counterproductive – indeed, it is a pseudo-solution to a problem nonexistent, at least as far as the climate is concerned (urban mobility incentive programs included in the Climate Fund, for example, justify themselves). The insistence on its preservation, by virtue of the inertia of the status quo, will not imply any effect on the climate, but will tend to deepen the many negative impacts of such guidelines.
The main one is the unnecessary increase of a series of economic activities, due to:
– subsidies for the exploitation of low-efficiency energy sources, such as wind and solar photovoltaic, already in decline in the European Union (EU), which invested heavily in them;
– imposition of quotas and fees linked to carbon emissions, as the EU did to enable its carbon credits market, and countries such as Australia and France, where the great popular rejection forced its withdrawal;
– imposing on various economic activities carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) measures that are totally useless from a climate and public health point of view, since CO₂ is not a toxic and polluting gas; It is worth to insist, it is the gas of life. The main beneficiaries of such measures have been speculators, equipment suppliers and CCS services and participants in the intrinsically useless carbon markets, which have no real economic basis and are based solely on an artificial demand created from a need nonexistent.
6) Looking at the future
For the first time in history, mankind has a wealth of physical, technical and human knowledge and resources to provide the virtual totality of the material needs of an even larger population than today. This perspective makes it possible to universalize – in a fully sustainable way – the general levels of well-being enjoyed by the most advanced countries in terms of water infrastructure, sanitation, energy, transport, communications, health and education services and other achievements of modern civilized life. Despite the fallacious arguments against this perspective, the main obstacles to its realization, in less than two generations, are mental and political, not physical and environmental. Definitely, Brazilian environmental policy (including the climate agenda) needs to fit in with this perspective.
Luiz Carlos Baldicero Molion
(Retired) of the National Institute of Space Research (INPE), associate professor (retired) of the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL), a professor of meteorology and postdoctoral researcher in Forest Hydrology,
José Carlos Parente de Oliveira
Physicist, PhD in Physics and Post-Doctor in Atmospheric Physics, associate professor (retired) of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Ceará (IFCE)
José Bueno Conti
Geographer, PhD in Physical Geography and Professor of Climatology, Full Professor of the Geography Department of the University of São Paulo (USP)
Fernando de Mello Gomide
Physicist, titular professor (retired) of the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA)
Ricardo Augusto Felício
Meteorologist, Master and Doctor in Climatology, Professor of the Department of Geography of the University of São Paulo (USP), member of the Brazilian Society of Meteorology (SBMET)
Geographer, Master’s in Applied Meteorology and PhD in Geography, Full Professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Minas Gerais (IFMG)
Daniela de Souza Onça
Geographer, Master and PhD in Climatology, Professor of the Geography Department of the State University of Santa Catarina (UDESC)
Carlos Henrique Jardim
Geographer, master, doctor and postdoctor in Geography, professor of the Department of Geography of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).
Wellington Lopes Assis
Geographer, Master and PhD in Geography, Professor of the Geography Department of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
João Bosco A. de Morais
Geologist, Master in Hydrogeology and PhD in Vulnerability of Aquifers, private consultant and advisor for the Environment of the Government of the State of Ceará
Danilo Ericksen Costa Cabral
Meteorologist, Master’s in Meteorology, Executive Agency for Water Management of the State of Paraíba (AESA)
Rômulo da Silveira Paz
Meteorologist, Master’s in Meteorology, PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Associate Professor, Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB)
Paulo Cesar Martins Pereira de Azevedo Branco
Geologist, senior researcher in Geosciences (retired) of the Geological Survey of Brazil (CPRM)
Gildo Magalhães dos Santos Filho
Electronic Engineer, PhD in Social History and Professor of History of Science and Technology, Full Professor of the History Department of the University of São Paulo (USP)
Physicist, Master and PhD in Nuclear Physics and PhD in Astrophysics, petroleum engineer and private consultant
Guilherme Polli Rodrigues
Geographer, Master in Climatology, environmental consultant
Igor Vaz Maquieira
Biologist, specialist in Environmental Management
Mario de Carvalho Fontes Neto
Agronomist, editor of The Great Global Warming Swindle blog
Journalist, executive editor of Agro DBO magazine and co-author of the book CO₂ warming and climate change: are you kidding us? (with Luiz Carlos Baldicero Molion and José Carlos Parente de Oliveira, DBO Editores Associados, 2015)
Geraldo Luís Saraiva Lino
Geologist, author of The Global Warming Fraud: How a Natural Phenomenon Was Converted into a False Global Emergency (Capax Dei, 2009, 4th ed., 2015)